Using functional electrical stimulation with stroke survivors: A survey of Victorian occupational therapists and physiotherapists

Owen Howlett, Carol McKinstry, Natasha A. Lannin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background/aim: Functional electrical stimulation (FES) improves active movement of the hemiplegic upper and lower limbs following stroke. The use of FES by Australian allied health clinicians in stroke rehabilitation is, however, unknown. The purpose of this study was to understand the use of FES in clinical practice. Reasons for the use of FES and potential variables that influence decision-making were also investigated. Methods: Cross-sectional study of Victorian allied health clinicians, using a snowball recruitment method. Ninety-seven eligible therapists completed the anonymous online survey. Data were analysed using frequency distributions. Results: The majority of respondents were occupational therapists (n = 60; 62%). Approximately half of the respondents (n = 50; 52%) reported using FES in the past two years to improve a stroke survivor's ability to use their arm in daily activities. Respondents suggested that receiving workplace training from colleagues to learn how to use FES is the preferred method of education. Of those who received education (n = 80), 50 participants reported using FES in their practice. Conclusion: There is variable use of FES in stroke rehabilitation to increase active movement after stroke. While there was moderate agreement about when to use FES and useful education approaches for learning to use FES, further research is needed to better understand strategies which could be implemented to support increased FES use in stroke rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)306-313
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • electric stimulation
  • occupational therapy
  • physical therapy modalities
  • stroke rehabilitation
  • translational medical research

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